Oil drilling and production in the many parts of the country is booming again. But in the Permian Basin of west Texas, the boom has a byproduct that producers are considerably less excited about: oil theft. The Houston-based Energy Security Council estimates that this year alone, Texas companies will lose between 10 to 30 million barrels of oil to theft, a revenue loss of $450 million to nearly $1.5 billion at today’s prices.
As coal companies go bankrupt there is growing concern and uncertainty over who will pay to clean up those mines. But Texas has been there before. In 2014, the state’s largest coal company filed for bankruptcy with over $1 billion in outstanding cleanup costs. Now, more than two years later, this case is held up an example of what works.
Historically, electricity pricing has been relatively straightforward: the more you use, the more you pay. But today, that simple equation is not so simple. Increasingly, the time of day when you use electricity factors into the cost as well.
Oil and gas development involves a lot of bright lights: from flares to drilling rigs to new housing for workers. That’s a concern for star gazers, who have documented an increase in light pollution in oilfields in North Dakota and West Texas. Hear how an observatory in Texas an a national park in North Dakota are trying to tackle the oilfield light pollution problem.
Congress is debating lifting the 1970’s era crude oil export ban. The oil industry is divided: Many producers would like to see the ban lifted, while crude oil refineries in this country stand to lose. Lorne Matalon of Marfa Public Radio explains for Inside Energy.
Nuclear waste is not popular in any neighborhood. In West Texas, there’s a battle underway over a plan to create a above ground storage facility for high level waste. Its a bigger problem than West Texas – the nation’s nuclear power plants are quickly running out of room to store the waste. This region has had a long and often contentious relationship with nuclear waste, stretching back to a years-long battle over a planned permanent waste site in the 1980’s and 90’s. Opponents eventually won that fight, but a different site was later built in the Permian Basin.
America’s thirst for oil is as strong as ever. And thanks to a giant boom in North Dakota, more U.S. oil is extracted at home. That’s turned some cattle ranchers into millionaires, a few oil bosses into billionaires and put money in the pockets of working people.
Inside Energy is a collaborative journalism initiative of partners across the US and supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting